Stocks ended mixed after moving between small gains and losses Tuesday, as investors kept their focus on developments in the euro zone and ahead of Alcoa's results, which marks the beginning of third-quarter earnings season.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 16.88 points, or 0.15 percent, to end at 11,416.30. Alcoa and Caterpillar led the blue-chip gainers, while AT&T slipped.
The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 0.65 points, or 0.05 percent, to close at 1,195.54. The Nasdaq gained 16.98 points, or 0.66 percent to finish at 2,583.03.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, was below 33.
Shortly after the market close, Slovakia's government lost a confidence vote and called on a plan to strengthen the euro zone's EFSF rescue fund, but the package was expected to go through in a later re-vote because the outgoing prime minister planned to ask for help from the opposition.
All 16 of the other euro zone countries have already ratified the plan to give more powers to the EFSF.
Stocks surged sharply in the previous session, with the Dow logging its best five-day point gain since Dec. 2008, amid optimism that France and Germany's pledge would help resolve the euro zone debt crisis and rescue the region's struggling financials. However, volume was relatively light with trading subdued due to Columbus Day.
“If they (euro zone leaders) don’t come up with something that has some form of a roadmap with credible muscle behind it in that period of time, then people are going to start building into their forecasts what up to now have been possibilities," John Haynes, head of research at Investec told CNBC. "They will become probabilities and the people in the real world, like CEOs, will start to plan against the possibility becoming a probability and will take precautionary measures."